Harvard University’s Nieman Foundation announced that the ProPublica investigation “Busted” has been recognized as one of two finalists for the Taylor Family Award for Fairness in Journalism.
Written by reporters Ryan Gabrielson and Topher Sanders, and published in partnership with the New York Times Magazine, “Busted” spotlighted how police departments across the country use roadside drug tests to secure guilty pleas and send tens of thousands of people to jail every year, despite widespread evidence that they routinely produce false positives.
Taylor Award judge Margie Mason commented, “‘Busted’ uses a compelling narrative to spell out a story about one innocent woman that makes you wonder just how many other wrongly accused people have gone to jail nationwide over the years for simply having a suspicious looking crumb of food in their cars during a routine traffic stop.”
ProPublica’s reporting spurred the district attorney’s office in Portland, Oregon, to review its drug possession cases. The office discovered five cases where defendants had pled guilty — but subsequent lab tests came back negative for the presence of any controlled substances — and vacated those wrongful convictions.
Learn more about this year’s Taylor Award honorees here.